Dawn Szelc LDG Secretary Clear Blue Landscapes
The most recent summer tour of the LDG was to the Bishop's Garden at the National Cathedral.
Our docent, Ann, met us near the Baptistery which had been the Herb Cottage until it was partially destroyed by a crane falling on it after the earthquake. The crane had been working on repairs to the Cathedral, and was toppled by wind, causing significant damage to the garden's Norman Arch, stone wall, and numerous trees. Everything was repaired and now the building is a café. Ann explained that the garden was designed by Frederick Law Olmstead, Jr. and was executed by the amazing work of Florence Brown Bratenahl, the wife of the first Dean of the Cathedral. She formed the All Hallows Guild, the garden guild of the Cathedral, to raise funds. She brought many mature plants into the garden from nearby properties and also brought hardscape elements such as the pie stones from the Nelly Custis property. She received numerous medieval sculptures from George Gray Barnard's collection for the garden. His collection was the most extensive in America at the time and it later formed the basis of "The Cloisters" collection.
The Norman Gate and view once inside.
There are many beautiful garden rooms and views in the garden - it's difficult to write about them all. Ann took us through the Norman Court with high arch and lovely fountain. It was a cool shady spot on a hot day. Then we walked to the Bishop's Lawn and Border where an enormous Blue Atlas Cedar is growing. It was brought as a seedling from Palestine. The Shadow House, built with stones from President Grover Cleveland's summer home, near the Lawn has lovely views of the lower Blue Perennial border with the Yew walk above it. We visited the Rose Garden with the Wayside Cross as it's focal point - so named because it was a large stone cross from Europe that would guide travelers. The Rose Garden has a Peace Rose planted in it that was a gift from Haile Selassie, emperor of Ethiopia. The Herb garden, called Hortulus, is next to the Rose Garden. It is planted with herbs that were obtained from a plant list of Wilfred Strabo, a monk who wrote a book about the medicinal use of herbs called Hortulus. In the center of this garden is a Carolingian font from the time of Charlemagne. At one end of the garden is the Samuel Yellin gates - these were created by the wrought-iron master from Philadelphia. Near the gate is the Finial Garden where a finial that fell from the church during the earthquake has been placed. Photos from many of these sites are posted below.
The Bishop's Garden is a true gem in our area and should be visited by all. If you can get a tour even better so that you can understand and appreciate all that has gone into it's creation and maintenance. The LDG is thankful to Ann, our guide, and the All Hallow's Guild for their continued work in the garden.
LDG is a non-profit corporation dedicated to the exchange and enhancement of knowledge relevant to the landscape design profession. We are a group of professional designers in the metropolitan Washington, DC area. Membership is meant for students studying and professionals employed in landscape design or associated professions (i.e. arborists, installers, contractors, etc.).
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